Thursday, December 29, 2011

'Twas the night before New Year

So, for both the first Janathon and this year's Juneathon, I took it upon myself to plagiarise well known poems or prose as a little light entertainment, to break the loneliness of the long duration runner. It seems only appropriate to begin this Janathon the same, in a light-hearted vein, with a visit from our patron saint*

'Twas the night before New Year (or "A visit from St Jan")
With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before New Year, and all down the street,
Not a creature was stirring, they were resting their feet.
Their running shoes sat by the back door, so near,
Knowing that Janathon soon would be here.

And me, I was nestled, all snug in my bed,
While thoughts of the month to come danced in my head:
Thoughts of lycra, and fleece, of my windproofs and cap,
While pre-emptive leg pains tried to threaten my nap.

Then out on the lawn there arose such a racket,
I woke from my slumbers, muttering "Oh fackit..."
And away to the window I stumbled half blind,
Throwing open the curtains to see what I'd find,

The moon on the breast of the rain sodden grass,
Made me blink, and mutter, and wonder what ass,
Was standing out there in Ron Hills and Pertex?
When he turned, and he looked at me, and he yelled "You're next!"

"You dasher, you dancer, you prancer, you prat!
Stir your legs, you lazy arse, don't lie putting on fat!
To the end of the street! To the top of the hill!
Now run away! Run away! As fast as you will!"

And as dry leaves before a runner's feet fly,
When they're kicked up at pace, they take to the sky,
Straight up to the house-top the yeller he flew.
In his hi-viz, Ron Hills and headlamp too.

Soon, in a second, I heard on the roof,
The skittering, scuttling of a motion-controlled hoof.
As I drew closed the curtain, and turned back around,
Down the chimney St. Jan appeared with a bound.

He was dressed in his running kit, tech from head to foot,
Though his hi-viz was tarnished with ashes and soot.
And he jogged on the spot, unwilling to quit,
And I pondered his motion, as on my bed I did sit.

His eyes, how they twinkled, though his face it was old,
His cheeks glowing rosy, caught by wind and by cold.
And his droll little mouth broke into a grin,
"What secrets you'll learn, now you've let St. Jan in"

He was skinny and spry, but a jolly wee elf,
And I smiled when I saw him, in spite of myself.
And a wink of his eye and a scratch of his ear,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to fear.

A bottle of electrolyte he took from his pack,
Which he handed to me, which I drank and passed back.
And soon I was filled with a feeling of joy:
The trails would be my playground, the mileage my toy!

St. Jan spoke no more words, just stood there and smiled.
And in that moment I knew how we'd cover the miles.
He saw my grin, shook my hand, and whispered "Give it hell"
Then he strode out the door, other runners to tell.

And calm as you like he jogged away down the street,
Eating up the miles as they passed 'neath his feet
And as he did, he exclaimed, and I'd echo his shout
"Good luck to all! Run safe. Peace, out"

*Or I may have made that one up...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Future Imperfect

Evening all. And Merry Whatsitsnamey. Y'know? Thing. That day where a fat bearded bloke (not me) comes and visits and brings pressies (definitely not me). Aye, you got it, that one. Thingy.

Not wanting to get into the soppy reflective stuff, but 2011's been an interesting year: Running an Ultra was something I wasn't expecting this time last year, but neither was getting back into proper kayaking form, building a couple of new bikes, taking my Dad down the Tyne in an open canoe or... well.. a lot of stuff. It's been good, really good,

So what's 2012 got in store? What big adventures to concentrate on now?

Firstly, Janathon. Because it's an awesome start to the year, a great way to kick the winter blues and, while it can be hard work, the collaborative atmosphere is fantastic. I'm happy to say I'll be participating again.

Secondly, and lasting a bit longer Twelve : Fifty-Two is a new project to build on the photography stuff I do. A weekly challenge with a group of friends, acquaintances and complete strangers, with a different theme to focus on each week, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Should be fun, I hope!

Thirdly: Hmmm. I may be going back to the Grand Raid des Pyrenees. Not with a point to prove, not to try and better my time, just because I enjoyed the race and some others have expressed an interest in going out as well.

Other projects: Who knows? I'd like to get more biking in to accompany the running, more paddling in to accompany both of the above. There's always the desire to lose a couple of pounds and all of those should help. Where else in the world I'll end up is anyone's guess. It'll be fun finding out.

So, huge hugs to all anyone for taking the time to read this, best wishes whatever your plans are for the New Year, and keep smiling on.



Monday, December 05, 2011

Mojo Days

It's been an awesome weekend. One of those weekends that just feels good, doesn't involve stress and just seems to go, on the whole, pretty damn well. I like weekends like that. I reckon I need more of 'em.

Saturday night was Pie Night 2011. Like previous years, there were 3 varieties of pie on the table, with mash and peas - I like the traditional 'Pie & Pea Supper' idea, it's nice and simple - plus a few beers/wines/drinkies, whatever people brought or nabbed from the fridge. This years pie selection was:
- Steak Forestiere  (inspired by our meal on the way to the GRP)
- Spiced Pork and Apple (suitably autumnal/wintery, I thought)
- Seared Tofu with Gingered Veg and Watercress (because I have to think of something to feed the veggies...)

'twas a small gathering, very enjoyable and fun, even if (as usual) the paddlers disappeared off into paddle-talk and everyone else wondered what the heck we were going on about. A small select batch then headed along to East of Arcadia for an extra wee bevvy.

Sunday morning was a bit of an early start, picked up by Matt and Maria at 8:45 to head up to the Middle Tees to meet the YUCC crowd. Levels looked pretty good, there'd been a fair amount of rain up in the headwaters, so the river was medium-high, 0.85 on the gauge. That translated as "High enough for the stoppers and holes to appear threatening, but not so high you can't punch through them". The second hole on Abbey Rapids handed out a couple of small spankings and a backloop or two for those who didn't keep their weight forward (not me. I must be learning...), so a bit of chase work in the gorge below, but the normally kicky little hole in the middle was pretty washed out so no major dramas. I'd not paddled with most of the group before, but it was good to see a couple of the apparent 'intermediates' take some initiative and lead through sections. Notable mentions for the day have to go to Kimmy for holding in there for a second roll attempt on Abbey and to Sam for upping his game after an early ducking.

The rest of the river was really nice. Whorlton Lido drop looked pretty horrendous at the river right end, so we portaged people around it to avoid any incidents. A couple of people were suffering with the cold - wetsuit and cag plus a couple of swims on a day when there were snow flurries on the river - so we bailed them out to one of the cars at Whorlton bridge before heading on. The section from Whorlton to Winston was fantastic bouncy hole-dodging. Whorlton Weir demanded a little thought and attention, and the theme continued from there, with a good bit of work on line choice and technique, but without having to worry too much about getting it wrong. The last sequence of drops above Winston Bridge was a one-by-one lead-through with some nice little surfy waves and big boily patches, just enough to stop you getting complacent. The sun even came out on the lower part!

All in all, an excellent weekend for the mojo, good company, good food and great paddling. Let's hope for more of those to banish the S.A.D over the winter!